Tuesday, January 15, 2019

Et Tu, Bon Appetit?

It used to be that gourmet food magazines were a great way to escape the stresses of everyday life. With a few flips of the pages, you could vicariously travel to Paris, Rome, Kyoto, New Orleans, or Copenhagen and learn about the food, the history, and the culture of these great cities. Talk of calories was avoided, and the true passion around food and cooking shone.

And then, without warning, bread became taboo, a "cheat" food, and food magazines started buying into the myths embedded in diet culture. These once interesting publications started interviewing people in the fashion and entertainment industry so everyone could see how and what they eat in a day: plain vegetables and protein with a rare splurge of a few potato chips if they earned it. And the stomachs of readers everywhere who used to enjoy beautiful presentations, elegant recipes, and fine dining in general turned.

It's bad enough that cooking magazines now promote warped ideas around health and diet, the kind of junk one finds in fashion magazines designed to take advantage of people's insecurities around beauty, but it's particularly appalling when coaches, nutritionists, or anyone acting as such does. For example, a nutritionist who uses social media to post links to "articles" on how to have thinner thighs and lose belly fat is probably more concerned with getting attention than doing what's right. It's clear that there are many people who are struggling or have unhealthy beliefs around diet that still insist on dictating what others should do. They don't care that joking or silly comments about diet and body can be harmful as long as they get a few extra likes or reposts.

I understand that many people want to lose weight, but our society's constant obsession with weight loss and the perfect body is unhealthy. It's tiresome to see just how many people buy into and then promote this idea that losing weight is the answer to all your problems. It's so ingrained in our culture that many people don't even realize just how harmful what they promote can be, but anyone in a position of calling him or herself any kind of coach, mentor, or provider should be more aware.

I always come back to how deadly eating disorders are, so if you are actively encouraging individuals who are already at a healthy weight to lose, lose, lose! you are a big part of the problem. Consider your audience and ask yourself if what you're suggesting could be potentially triggering. It takes so little effort to reword a comment or avoid posting a link in order to do right by those who are more vulnerable. I'm not saying you have to completely censor yourself; I'm just saying think about the messages you're putting out there.

Saturday, December 29, 2018

You Do You

I've been fortunate to be invited to speak about eating disorder recovery and share my story in the past. I will always consider myself an advocate, but I spend more time as a mentor offering advice to those in the throes of the illness than I do promoting myself. In fact, I don't really promote myself much at all anymore and was never very good at it in the beginning. Plus, in case it wasn't obvious, I'm not willing to hide my political, religious, and other views, which can be a turnoff to some.

The eating disorder recovery community needs all types, from those who are very vocal and in the spotlight as much as possible to those who are more quietly reaching out to others in need. Eating disorders are tough illness to overcome or manage, and educating the public about recovery is essential, no matter what form raising awareness takes, unless, of course, the message is skewed.

It's hard to explain just how disappointing it is to see so called advocates engage in jokes that support diet culture, promote fears, and suggest terrible ideas around eating and exercise. Even those with degrees in nutrition aren't always careful about what they popularize.

The other day, I saw a lady who has put herself in a position of being a healthy eating advocate (but obsessively posts photos of every fucking morsel she puts into her mouth) suggest to her audience that they should consider cravings merely thoughts. She then implies that doing this is a good thing because that way you can avoid eating the food you're craving. I get what she's probably trying to say, that not every single craving needs to be acted upon, but the message is all kinds of fucked up the way it's presented. And that's the thing; since her main topic is weight loss, it doesn't really matter to her how anyone else interprets the message. All that matters is that she gets more attention, more likes, more "you go girl!" comments, and more approval. Unfortunately, she has a lot of people who are struggling or have struggled with various eating disorders following her, but she still seems to think it's OK to continually toss out ideas that potentially or sometimes quite clearly counter eating disorder recovery strategies.

Here's the truth. It's sometimes just fucking fine to eat because you fucking want to, because your soul or brain or some remote part of you calls out for it or because you're tired and need a little pick-me-up. That's normal. This idea that we must always eat only when hungry and only at certain times and not at night and not too much sugar and rule after rule after fucking rule is tiresome. I'm so glad that when I went to see a respected dietitian, she didn't try to shame me into not eating a midnight snack or wave her finger and tsk tsk me for eating ice cream and chocolate most days.

Hey, it's great that you found what works for you. Just stop shoving your goddamn diet plan down other people's throats and asking for money to do it. I am so glad that I stressed in the books that I wrote that everyone is different, that there is no one right way to do things. The best thing you can do for yourself is work on self-compassion and self-trust. What someone else does might be helpful in terms of giving you ideas, and it might not be. Worse, it might be hurtful, so you really have to be careful with all the fad diets, fasting suggestions, and general bullshit floating around lately.

Thursday, December 20, 2018

Strong Not Skinny and Other Attention Grabbing Nonsense

The first time I saw a strong not skinny hashtag, I cringed and figured it would be a short-lasting fad, something instagrammers would use in an attempt to promote themselves or their products until people realized how ridiculous the concept really is. Instead, it seems to be spreading, even into the running world. It's a completely flawed and potentially damaging idea. All this kind of saying really does is set new parameters around how a woman is "supposed to" look instead of remove the parameters altogether.

One of the most obvious flaws with this statement is that an athlete can be both skinny and strong. Saying #strongnotskinny is almost an insult to those who are both. Another problem is that many people who are very clearly unwell and underweight are using the hashtag, because in the hashtag world, it's all about getting attention, not reality or necessarily helping anyone. There are also those who use it who are healthy and fit but very publicly trying to lose weight or restrict in some way giving those who witness this kind of behavior widely opposing mixed messages. None of this does anything to better anyone, and it really puts a lot of pressure on vulnerable individuals.

What I would love to see is a step away from our cultural obsession with body. People might mean well by using this kind of hashtag, but they're not thinking things though. They're not seeing the bigger picture. If you move the very narrow restrictions of how a woman or an athlete should look from here to there, it's not really helping all that much. Focus, instead, on the actions of the individual and who she is rather than how she looks. Thin, fat, fit, strong, weak, or out of shape, I don't fucking care. It's not important. What is important is how she treats others, how happy she is, how healthy she is, and what she does in life, not what her outer appearance is. I'm all for celebrating the body and how it looks aesthetically, but I'm adamantly opposed to sending messages to the public about what any body should look like. That shit gets on my nerves.

The more I see people starved for their 15 minutes of fame and willing to do nearly anything for attention, the more I want to retreat into the shadows. There are so many bad role models out there, even in the running community. It's really important to be selective about whom you follow online. I know so many people who are negatively affected by what they see others promote. It's unfortunate that some are more concerned with notoriety than how they might affect others. Maybe one day things will change.

Thursday, October 25, 2018

Round Two

I've been repeatedly ridiculed by a particular person in the last few years. I don't really know her and don't care to, yet I'm affected by her creepy online behavior. As much as I hate dedicating parts of my blog to what looks like childish bullshit on the surface when I do write, blogging often helps me process.  

I've always been one who wants the world to operate under some kind of "Do the Right Thing" rule, and in most cases, doing the right thing isn't all that complicated to figure out. Most people know right from wrong. In some cases, the right action is clear, but there's an obstacle that inhibits the right outcome. That's what I consider normal, but in rare cases, people are just assholes or mentally ill and can't help but inflict their misery onto others.

It's never my goal to harm anyone, but if you fuck with me or worse, my friends, I'm not going to take it lightly. I have a tendency to be far too nice up to a point, but when someone keeps needling me or the people I care about, I will eventually react. I was much too kind in this blog post about someone who has presented herself as an obsessive stalker and continues to play fucking games because she's completely unable to either address whatever is going on in her mind directly or let go of whatever made-up bullshit grudge she has against pretty much all the people who ever tried to help her or were nice to her, me included. If you want the long sordid but true story, start here: http://www.kemibe.com/kimduclos.htm

I can't imagine going through life like that, just constantly lashing out at people, creating fake identities and constantly lying. How do people like this sleep at night? I'm familiar with having regrets, but I've never hounded people for things I imagined or pretended they did. Hell, given the way I was treated when I was young, I'd say I've done a pretty good job of forgiving and moving on. This woman appears to be completely incapable, and I can't imagine how anyone can look at the way she behaves and be OK with it. I'm certainly not.

I've been along for this nightmare of a ride since it started, since the first time she attempted to meddle in my relationship and lied about me. I witnessed her outbursts on Facebook when her former coach decided he had enough of her antics and nonpayment and cut her off, and I was at a hearing after she filed a false police report when a judge strongly suggested she fucking stop "trying to make Mr. Beck look like a bad person" online, which, of course, she didn't. What I don't understand is how anyone who has clearly been abusive could claim she's a victim, which is her latest trick.

That's the worst thing about all of this now, that she's pretending to be the victim of abuse of some sort after starting all of this. She's posting in various Reddit groups giving obvious clues that it's her until she eventually gets banned or booted for saying bizarre or obviously false things that rarely have anything to do with the theme of the forum. It makes me physically ill to see her pretending to be a target of any kind of misconduct and offer "advice" as a way to promote her lies. Why was this kind of abuse never brought up in the hearing? Because she was never anyone's prey. Though this post isn't what I call nice, it's accurate. Anyone who thinks it's unkind should imagine having someone attack you and your friends for years on end, and then ask yourself if you could continue to ignore it as the ugly behavior escalates.

You would think that someone who gets banned and whose comments get deleted in Reddit groups would at least take a break, but nope! After being booted from one group recently after making very unsettling comments that appear to be targeting me, she's already posting in another group, still pretending to be a victim. This is all a lot of blah blah to people who don't know the details of the saga, but normal people don't say the kinds of things she does. Normal people, even ones who truly are hurt, eventually get a fucking grip and stop irrationally lashing out at others. Because she said she could basically fuck with me (something she seems fond of doing and even threatened to do with her boyfriend's parents at one time) by going to my place of work, I'm more than a little concerned, not because of what she would say --my boss is like family to me and knows me extremely well -- but because of what someone this unhinged could potentially DO. I mean, this is really messed up, and I can't believe it's still going on with her. Over what? Over fucking what?

You might ask why put this out there. It's because people like her don't stop, ever. They obsess and try to manipulate and orchestrate, even if their plans look ridiculous. Below are three different versions of something she posted before she got kicked out of a narcissistic abuse group on Reddit. Having a relative with severe BPD, I'm familiar with "N abuse". Notice her controlling and manipulative language. There are a few things Kim needs to know that I will state clearly here:

1. I will never, ever go out for tea or meet you in person unless I'm forced to in a courtroom, and in that case, you can trust that I will be there prepared for whatever nonsense you attempt to hurl my way.

2. Kevin is not an abuser and has addressed his past openly, and I wasn't posting in that forum because of him, period. I consider him my best friend, and he has been there for me in ways very few people have throughout the time I have known him.

3. The more you play the troll, the worse you look. I beg you to get whatever help you need to stop harassing and trying to manipulate others online.

4. I don't hate my job and have always said how grateful I am to be working in a beautiful place with people who are like family to me. If you try anything at my place of employment, you will have to deal directly with the owners and their lawyers.

5. Obviously, if moderators and everyone else can see through your bullshit, maybe it's time to stop, just fucking stop already.

Kimberly Duclos, kimduclos@gmail.com

Sean Donohue, kimduclos@gmail.com

Kim has tried to convince others that she's the author of neither these anonymous attacks that always look the same nor the ones behind her own Twitter account but only when what's posted is really shitty. When she switches from genuine asshole to everything's all unicorns farting rainbows, then she wants everyone to believe it's her again. Because she has posted volumes of awful comments about Kevin, me, Brad, people in Boulder, my mom, those with eating disorders, the homeless, women who march for various causes, former running partners, pretty much all of Kevin's ex-girlfriends, and people with addictions, I'm only posting a very, very small sampling of what's out there. And because she has a special kind of venom for Kevin's former girlfriends, my guess is that she made some assumptions about their relationship.

I want people to know exactly what she's doing and has been doing over the years. I doubt there will ever be any real justice, but I can at least let people know what kind of person this woman is and how much she has lied and lashed out at me and other innocent people. Yes, I could look away, but I won't anymore. I did that for years, and it only seemed to encourage her to become more savage. I want it all out there. Sitting back and doing nothing feels worse so I will address this as much as I feel necessary.

Sean Donohue, kimduclos@gmail.com

Kimberly Duclos, kimduclos@gmail.com

Kimberly Duclos, kimduclos@gmail.com

You can listen to audio clips from the hearing that demonstrate that Kim lied countless times after filing a false police report:

Thursday, October 11, 2018

Free Book

If anyone would like to read my recovery handbook for free, you can create a free account on Smashwords and use this coupon until Oct 31st, 2018: LJ57U https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/730896

Saturday, September 15, 2018

Race Recap

I decided to jump into one more race before surgery next week. I wanted to see if I could actually race instead of jog, so I picked a small 5K in Longmont that benefitted the Safe Shelter of St. Vrain Valley.

It's hard to go into a race knowing you're neither physically or mentally prepared nor structurally sound, but the truth is that I love racing. Yes, it terrifies me, and I have all these limitations and demons to address. Still, there's a deep sadness in my heart when I'm completely removed from my sport. It's not a great idea to wobble through a race, but there's always a risk, even when you go in fully prepared.

The one thing I've noticed is that I tend to have some breathing issues about two miles into things when I'm actually running harder. I don't know if this is a panic type thing, but I've found slowing slightly and regrouping seems to help. The problem is that it's easy to settle into a tempo pace from there instead of putting the hammer down, which is a little bit what I did today. I got sort of lost in thought out there after the halfway point. Before I knew it, we were at the finish, and I didn't have any time to try to catch the two ladies in front of me. They seemed within reach, but I lacked confidence. Both of them looked so smooth and strong. While I was glad to keep them in view, I really wish I could have trusted myself enough to make a move. Racing is so unfamiliar to me right now, though.

I've got some noticeable imbalances to deal with, but I'm incredibly grateful that I'm running at all. Every time I say that a part of me thinks, "Yeah, but I want to really run again!" Patience isn't my forte. I have to be patient, though. If I'm not careful, too many things could go wrong. Some days I get to explore the trails; other days I'm limited to a short stroll and some biking. I just never know how much I will be able to manage on a given day, so training on a set schedule isn't likely.

But I got through a race with minimal pain. After the 10K I jogged, I had to really back off everything for a while until I could walk again. Imbalances lead to tightness and strains, so I'm forced to honor what my body says. Sometimes it says stop. Today it allowed me to be a part of the running community, and that makes me happy. I know. Even us Eeyore types smile now and then.

My time isn't great, but I feel oddly optimistic about it. Now to get through this surgery and back out there as soon as possible without being reckless.

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It's not a spectacular performance, but there's room for improvement.

Tuesday, September 4, 2018

The Silly Things We Do

I should probably correct the title to I instead of we, but I suspect I'm not the only one who makes some not so sensible decisions when it comes to running.

I'll keep this short since there's not a whole lot to report. Yesterday, I went to watch the Fortitude 10K in Fort Collins. My main job, I figured, would be to cheer on my best friend who was running with the fast people. I don't quite know how or why it happened, but next thing I knew, I was standing at the start in the very slow wave thanks to the generosity, kindness, and encouragement of a few people. Obviously, this wasn't a wise decision considering my fairly recent surgery and the fact that I am scheduled for another procedure in a few weeks, but there was this tiny part of my brain that kept repeating, "Why not?"

In an effort to stay out of the race because I figured I might be tempted, I ran on the trails the day before and did a slightly faster jog the day before that. My theory was that tired legs would prompt my brain into making a sensible decision. It didn't work. From there, I convinced myself that I would jog the race. That also didn't work because once I was running, I looked around and decided I really didn't want to see a person in a dinosaur costume beat me. From there, I eased into a tempo pace, about the max I can handle right now anyway, and did my best to move forward without hurting myself too badly or running into anyone or anything on the very crowded course.

Everything was going well enough until about the halfway point when I had some tummy issues and something didn't feel right. I experienced some lower abdomen pains that I attributed to the surgery and considered stopping but convinced myself that dropping out midway through the race would be hugely disappointing. Plus, I had to get to the finish area one way or another, so I kept going, slowing here and there to better access the discomfort.

I finished strong, but when I stopped, I really didn't feel right. A lady asked if I was OK after I bent over and put my hands on my knees, a gesture someone going my speed shouldn't need to do. I told her I was but I felt a bit woozy. I'll spare anyone reading the gory details, but I guess you could say shit happens, only this was more of a small, bloody deposit. I'm sure it's related to the surgery, maybe not directly but there's a connection. Well, that wasn't pleasant. Fortunately, there was a bathroom with running water where I got myself cleaned up. I had a few rough moments getting myself back to the car, but everything sorted itself out by that evening and I should be fine. With my lopsided gait, I've got some uneven soreness and tightness that's rather concerning, but a few rest and easy days should help.

I'm not listed in the results, but that's probably a good thing. My time was embarrassingly slow, though I was glad it was under 50 minutes on such a fast course. Mostly, I was glad to spend much of the day with someone I care about, even though a lot of the time I wasn't very good company. I fell asleep on the way to the race and was too beat after to offer much in terms of conversation. Still, it was good to get out and away from routine. Additionally, I pushed myself out of my comfort zone in pretty much every way yesterday, and that has to be good for my mental health.

Thursday, August 16, 2018

Unexpected Bumps and Turns

It has been a while since my last blog post. To be honest, I haven't been writing all that much, and I'm still trying to recover from major surgery, this one not related to my feet or limbs, though there might be one more coming up to correct an issue many people told me was in my head. An x-ray showed otherwise. I'm somewhat uncomfortable. The surgery went well, but, as expected, healing is filled with a lot of ups and downs. I've had a few very hard days, but I've managed to get back to work and have done some light exercise in addition to my normal daily activities. Mostly, I'm feeling on the worn out side.

I thought it would be good for me to try to be more social. Unfortunately, going through this has only made me want to isolate more. It's really difficult for me to be out in the world right now. For the most part, I go to work and don't have a ton of interaction with others outside of that. I've made some exceptions by going to watch a few track and road races, mostly to support a friend, but otherwise, I'm keeping to myself more and more. The doctor said to expect some depression, so I'm doing what I can to weather it, only I'm not all that sure what steps to take other than a "fake it 'til you make it" approach.

Probably the best thing going on in my life lately is miso-mayo. I got addicted after my coworker and I ordered origini from a little cafe nearby. The miso-mayo one was the best, though all of the ones we tired were good. Still, I started making my own at home, and now I'm finding miso-mayo is good on a lot of foods.

Yeah, I know this is a lame post. I'm in a funk, and I don't have a lot going on in my life, except figuring out how to pay the enormous medical bills after the surgery. Holy shit those are outrageous.

Saturday, June 16, 2018

What Outside Magazine Got Wrong

I wish online social media fuss didn't bother me as much as it sometimes does, but here I am writing another post on an article that derails the conversation about young athletes we should be having, one that includes how to properly guide them into a long and successful career. These kinds of situations are distracting, but I feel it's important to offer my viewpoint given my past as an athlete and my desire to continue mentoring others. This is a serious topic, so I don't like when people hamper progress in an area by quibbling over minor details. When there's a fire raging, you don't stop to yell about the dirt on the floor. 

For whatever reason, the article in the New York Times I mentioned earlier caused a lot of commotion. People stomped onto Twitter to say a lot of things about it. A few even suggested men shouldn't write about female issues. Imagine applying that logic to all areas, and you start to see how ridiculous an idea this is. But then a different man wrote something these same individuals agreed with, and it suddenly became OK for men to write about these topics.

It's unfortunate that so many people are misinterpreting the NYT article. The author, Mathew Futterman, recently mentioned on Twitter that his intention was to address the pressures young athletes experience. Could he have done it better? Probably, but nobody is suggesting puberty is the culprit or that the cruel twist Futterman mentions is the female body itself. The puzzle is why so many promising young female athletes have, as Kara Goucher put it, a "bumpy" experience when it comes to their running careers. The conversation should be about how to better support young athletes. Instead, despite the author's clarification, Outside Magazine Online decided it was necessary to slam the piece and insisted the article would somehow teach athletes to fear maturity. This isn't the first time Outside has published an article specifically to bitch about a New York Times article, either. It should be noted that the Outside article came out days after Futterman clarified his position.

A few errors that stood out to me in the Outside Magazine piece are listed below.


"The article quickly changes tack, however, in order to make the point that many top female high school runners fail to live up to their early promise because of changes to their physique. One of the “cruelest twists in youth sports,” it seems, is that girls become women."

No, this isn't what the article stated or even suggested. It suggested that the pressures young female athletes experience, especially those who have had some success early, to keep their former form as their bodies change is why you often see disordered eating patterns, overtraining, and body image issues develop, and this is ultimately why  many of them don't have continued success in their sport and why the success of those who manage well later isn't always a straight progression. As I mentioned before, it most definitely does not say that the cruel twist is puberty itself, becoming a woman, or a woman's changing body.  

Puberty is natural. How society and many coaches view it may not be. We also look at mothers who have recently given birth and expect them to be back to their pre-baby bodies too quickly. The focus is relentlessly on women's bodies. That's the problem. We don't need to be defined as strong or thin or fit or fat. We need new ways of looking at women altogether. THAT is the problem. People reinforcing diet culture, fitspiration, thinspiration, and posting images that strictly define women as something to look at that put unnecessary attention on the body only are a big part of the problem. Keep in mind I'm talking about athletes here, though this happens in the world at large, too. 

The New York Times article is not the problem, far from it. All it did was point out something that happens that many of us observe or have even gone through and offer ideas about how to possibly prevent burnout, injuries, and disordered eating from occurring in a specific population. Another problem is that we aren't willing to look at statistics and information objectively anymore. Bill Mahr is right when it comes to outrage. People get riled up over someone who's actually trying to help instead of addressing the bigger issues in society and the root issues. 


"Others criticized the author’s decision to cite Mary Cain, another high school standout from New York, as an example of a former teenage star whose career has “largely stalled.” Cain, as more than one person noted, has only just turned 22 and hence still has several years to develop and improve."

Nobody said Mary Cain's career is over, but it has stalled. That's an observation, not a criticism. There's nothing wrong with that at all. It just is. It doesn't mean she won't run well later or even soon. Still, she's missing what could be some of her most enjoyable years as a competitor, and there's no indication that she will return to the sport. Whether or not she does is nobody's business, really, but to pretend she's not like many others who had extra bumps in the road isn't being realistic. Bringing her up at all was only to mention that Tuohy and her team are aiming to try things differently and keep social media pressure and other stresses off of her as much as possible. I already addressed this in my last blog post. Whatever Mary does, she has already placed herself among the best of the best in running. If she likes, she has every right to rest on her laurels. If not, she has plenty of time to continue her running career. Nobody is denying that. 

Right before speculating about Tuohy's future and comparing her to another young athlete who set a world record, the author had this to say:
"As for Tuohy and her fellow high school runners, I think Fleshman and Goucher are right in that we should forswear speculating about their future potential."

The whole thing is rather confusing presented this way because we are supposed to acknowledge and celebrate her success, but only if we do it in the context of "her current athletic level." Despite the fact that this young lady is breaking course records and has two national high school records, we are NOT supposed to call her a prodigy defined as a person, especially a young one, endowed with exceptional qualities or abilities. No, that would be BAD and put too much pressure on her. 

In my opinion, what's more problematic than pointing out the prevalence of female runners who struggle to have a steady progression with large stretches of smooth sailing or calling someone with talent a prodigy is discounting or outright denying the number of times runners, even those who have had tremendous success, go through career-ending or potential career-ending struggles. I know at least three female Olympians who had major slumps early in their careers. Not that my personal observations mean anything, but there's a difference between a difficult transition and dropping out or being forced out of a sport you love early. This isn't to say women should achieve the same statistics or aim for the same type of progression as men; it's just pointing out that there is a difference and questioning why. 

What we should be addressing are how coaches can better guide young female athletes through the changes they naturally experience and how to keep the pressure off them so that the temptation isn't to try to hold onto an unrealistic standard. Encourage building strength so that they don't fall into disordered eating patterns or attempt unrealistic training schedules that their bodies may not be ready to handle. 

Though this wasn't the main topic of either article and is, perhaps, somewhat unrelated, we also need to be more aware and not deny the prevalence of eating disorders and body image issues at the elite running level. We also need to stop stereotyping those with eating disorders and other mental issues and stop focusing only on how someone looks as an indicator of wellness. Those who struggle don't choose a disorder and don't use it primarily to gain an advantage athletically. Mental illness is not a method of cheating. Implying otherwise certainly doesn't help resolve any issues young female runners might experience. 

Monday, June 11, 2018


Recently, I saw some Tweets expressing outrage about an article in the New York Times. I clicked the link expecting to be horrified by the content and, instead, found a very cautiously written piece on young female athletes. I read and reread the article, trying to see the cause of all this anger. It seems people often want to shoot the messenger instead of get to the root of the problem.

The article actually addresses something Brad, Kevin, and I discussed at our book signing. An audience member asked us why so many young, successful female athletes disappear after high school. Asking the question doesn't make anyone the bad guy. These are important issues that need to be discussed. As the article points out:

...since 1980, just one female winner of the Foot Locker National Cross Country Championships has made an Olympic team, compared with seven male high school champions. Just four have won an individual N.C.A.A. championship, but none of those were in cross-country.

In regard to the changes young females and young female athletes experience at the onset of puberty, Melody Fairchild offers her perspective in a thoughtful and measured response by saying:

That is not a sustainable thing,” Fairchild said in an interview from her home in Colorado, where she is a personal running coach. Even more dangerous, she added, is the message young women get when they are encouraged to fight to regain their high school physiques. “We want them to embrace being in a strong woman’s body.

Then the article goes into how Tuohy, a runner who is already breaking course records in cross country and track, her parents, and her coach are doing what they can to avoid mistakes they see others made. They are limiting her mileage, doing what they can to keep media attention to a minimum, encouraging her to stay in school and not go pro, and working to keep her healthy and her life balanced.

There's already a healthier trend in high school running programs that, fortunately, encourages young women to embrace their strength. Things are definitely different now than they were in the 80s, though there's still a very long way to go. Still, sayings related to being thin to win are no longer the norm. It should be noted, too, that nowhere in this article does it suggest you have to be thin to be successful. Nowhere in the article does it say or suggest that puberty is the problem. It very clearly states that the issue isn't staying thin but not building strength to sustain changes that naturally occur at puberty. There is a huge difference, an enormous one. In fact, the article suggests that a false assumption that an athlete has to stay lean is what often leads to disordered eating and low self-esteem and, eventually, the common crash and eventual disappearance of promising female athletes after high school.

I could spend more time on this and go through the article sentence by sentence, but that's it in a nutshell. I think people are misinterpreting the content of the article and taking a few lines out of context. For me, there are bigger battles to fight when it comes to what's going on in our society to promote, intentionally or not, unhealthy eating and lifestyle patterns, and mustering outrage at a pretty sensibly written article isn't on my list of time well spent. 

Sunday, June 10, 2018

Race Report

I'm not sure how I feel about that race. Going into it, everything seemed to play out smoothly. I wasn't all that well-rested, but I wasn't overly fatigued either. I'm probably not training hard enough to be at this point. Surprisingly, I got enough sleep and woke up in time to get myself to the start line, a feat that has been a challenge for me in recent years. Long gone are the days I used to be out the door by 6:15 a.m. for my regular runs.

The 5K in Louisville provided a fun but not fast course with a few sharp turns and some rolling hills. After a somewhat rocky start with a kid 400 meters into things randomly and suddenly deciding to turn at a 90-degree angle and bolt from my left side right in front of me and then to my right, which caused me to stagger step which wasn't good for my body or my morale, I jumped into an unfamiliar pace that was somewhere between too fast and race pace, though I could have just been nervous and feeling mechanically off. Eventually, my pace settled into something more sustainable. Once again, I got lost in thought in the second mile and forgot to actually race. My confidence decided to wander off and left me alone to question what I was doing and how much my body could handle. In the third mile, my leg started doing its weird clicky thing and got a bit stiff. In fact, for two days after the race, I worried I had gone past the not quite injured zone and into the injured one, but, fortunately, by the third day, things felt much better.

It's embarrassing to note that I ran over 22 minutes, but it was enough to place 5th and win the old folk's division, which also means I won my age group division. That was nice. For now, my big issue is the endometriosis monster that sometimes sleeps fitfully but is always noticeably present in my abdomen. When it gets angry, it flares up and howls as if it's trying to claw its way out, but it usually settles back down within a day or two. The cramping and pain can be almost unbearable, and, unfortunately, I'm looking at laparoscopic surgery as a solution in the coming weeks. It's not a cure but should help reduce the severe pain I've been experiencing.

I continue to do physical therapy for my legs and feet and also see a chiropractor, one that isn't among the many quacks out there. He's legit, and I notice a difference since I started seeing him. The surgery will be a setback, but I'm hoping I can actually start training and maybe build up some confidence and learn how to race again.

Thursday, June 7, 2018

Stereotypes and Anorexia

I was given a prompt to write about stereotypes in the eating disorder community. I'm a firm believer that we are all unique and that one condition will never look exactly the same on someone else. 

Any time anyone overgeneralizes about a group of individuals, it reinforces possibly incorrect beliefs held in general society. It's true that some stereotypes have a basis for being formed and aren't necessarily harmful or hurtful, but others are used to demean and repress certain groups of people. When it comes to eating disorders, we come in all sizes, shapes, colors, and genders. There is no one specific look that exemplifies eating disorders. In fact, there isn't even a look that's specific to anorexia. Those who are not emaciated can still suffer from the illness. You can't tell if a person has an eating disorder by merely looking at him or her, and not all underweight people have anorexia nervosa. Anorexic or not, there are plenty of people, especially on the internet, who knowingly or unknowingly promote an unhealthy lifestyle, diet culture, and/or extreme thinness. I have addressed those who are unwell and pretend they're not while promoting their unhealthy ways in previous blog posts

The typical myth floating around regarding anorexia is that people who suffer from the illness are generally thin, white, female, relatively wealthy, and controlling. It's starting to become more widely accepted, however, that anorexia and other disorders affect men and those in the LGBTQ community as well. It's also becoming common knowledge that having an eating disorder is not a choice, is not considered cheating in sports, and it isn't a lifestyle to be admired. In 2013, several groups of researchers looked at brain imaging, and the results suggested that anorexia is a neurological disorder. Specifically, those with eating disorders show dullness in the insulas but overactivity in the dorsolateral prefrontal cortex. This suggests that anorexia is more than purely a behavioral issue. 

Statistics around eating disorders vary, but the one thing that's clear is that eating disorders are the most deadly of all mental illnesses. Because the incidence of bulimia is increasing, there are now almost as many deaths occurring with bulimics as with anorexics and those with EDNOS. It may seem unfair that more attention is directed toward anorexia, but when anywhere between 5-10% of anorexics die within 10 years of the onset of the illness, time isn't on our side. Early detection is important, and treatment is crucial. As much as I agree that awareness needs to be showered on all eating disorders, there's no denying the fact that anorexia and related illnesses can kill quickly. 

It should be noted that I support the HAES movement, but there are some points that a very small group of individuals associated with the movement see differently than I do. I agree that, in general terms, fat people are discriminated against more, and that weight doesn't necessarily determine health. But thin people face some of the same problems as those who don't fall into the unrealistic beauty standard set by society. For example, anorexics also go to the doctor wondering if they will be heard and not discounted because of their diagnosis. Doctors often think whatever real illness we face is self-induced because of our eating disorders. We also get called names and get ugly stares in the streets. People tell us how and what we "should" be eating. Somehow we are expected to keep quiet about this because, oh, I don't know, somebody else has it worse or something. Obviously, I understand the major differences and the different stigmas of the two situations, but you just can't look at someone and make assumptions. 

My main point is that drawing attention to anorexia doesn't mean ignoring other illnesses. Just like people can support raising awareness around the diminishing population of mountain gorillas without discounting that of the blue whale, it's not impossible to call attention to those suffering from anorexia without discounting the severity and the symptoms of others who have different eating issues. 

Looking at someone, it's also impossible to know her history, and many people with eating disorders have struggled with multiple types of illnesses. For example, it's not unheard of for those who have been obese to become anorexic or fluctuate between heavier and lighter weights. You just never know the inner struggles of someone by looking at her outer appearance. Fat or thin, you don't know if she struggles with depression, addiction, poor self-esteem, anxiety, OCD, bipolar, or any other mental illness or condition. Many of us have had experience being at both ends of the spectrum, bullied and teased for being "too" fat at one time and "too" thin at another. 

Ultimately, try to have a little compassion. Avoid making judgments, and treat others who are struggling with the same compassion you would like to receive. 

Monday, May 14, 2018

Maturity and Emotions

The other day, one of my best friends and I were discussing grief and letting go. Both of us have a hard time processing loss, and many people, especially in the United States, are uncomfortable with other people's emotional pain. Most of us aren't taught how to weather our emotions. Instead, we're expected to shut down and move the fuck on, as if it's possible to ignore the turmoil we experience while grieving. In cases of relationships ending, this process can be even more difficult when one person sets the rules around the situation without considering how each of us might need something different in order to heal.

Often, others look at those of us who are sensitive and emotional as immature when it's more often the case that anyone suggesting emotions can be shut off like a faucet is the one who's too immature to handle either his own or someone else's emotions or both. In this country, the suggested solution of dealing with emotions is to take something for it, a dose of cheer up, bitch (STM reference). We get labeled weak, crazy, overly emotional, or hysterical, tactics of oppression. We are made to feel worse about ourselves because we don't close ourselves off immediately and hide from the world, though I admit I've done that in certain situations. Still, how anyone deals with loss is personal and shouldn't be judged, unless actions taken in the process are infringing on someone else, of course. Reacting and feeling are two different things.

Those who can't or don't want to witness your emotions or deal with your feelings might put you down for simply experiencing and handling a situation in a different way. Discounting another person is unfair and cruel. I suppose in terms of partnerships that's why those who start off as friends first have a better chance of a healthy parting. There's always the friendship to fall back on, though no breakup is ever easy. When it's a marriage that's ending, there's more than the emotional aspects to consider.

I'm probably not the best person to be doling out relationship advice. I've been told I'm not relationship material, not marriage material, not model material (even though that doesn't really matter or shouldn't in this case), too fucked up, and am pretty much only good for a fuck buddy type situation if that. Being in a relationship was never high on my priority list anyway, though, so it's no big surprise that I suck at them. Fuck it, though, I can care about people and love deeply. It's just that it doesn't always translate into anything productive. Highly sensitive people often have a hard time communicating, especially in potentially volatile or emotional situations. We think too far ahead and worry about outcomes instead of being fully present and trusting our immediate feelings.

In my own case, I generally only like being around people in small doses and need a lot of alone time in order to feel more comfortable around others. That's not exactly the best way to develop deeper connections with anyone. I do have some insight when it comes to human interaction, though, and deep down I'm a romantic at heart. I sometimes like being around a few select people, and I love hearing about that deep Romeo and Juliette type partnership, the kind in which one wouldn't want to live without the other, though I'm not a fan of offing yourself if things don't work out in the end. I mean, fuck that. There's plenty to offer the world as a single person. It's just nice to think that there might be that kind of passion in the world, not just for another human being either.

As I was discussing all of this with my friend, it got me thinking about how often women, in particular, are discounted when it comes to physical pain as well, a topic I've been meaning to address but keep putting off for some reason. At some point, I will buckle down and write out my thoughts, but for now, I'm sitting back and noticing that discounting emotional pain is similar to discounting physical pain. If someone is doing this to you, know that your feelings are valid, and your pain is real. Find others who will hear you, and don't let anyone belittle you for wearing your heart on your sleeve. I fully believe the world would be a better place if so many of us weren't closed off from our feelings.

“If you are willing to look at another person’s behavior toward you as a reflection of the state of their relationship with themselves rather than a statement about your value as a person, then you will, over a period of time cease to react at all.”

― Yogi Bhajan

Sunday, May 6, 2018

Food Addiction

I want to make sure that people who read this post don't think I'm suggesting anything about weight or diet. I'm not. I feel like I should put that in bold red lettering. I'm presenting information and don't necessarily have an opinion one way or another; I'm just interested in the ongoing research on addiction, especially regarding the brain. When discussing obesity, eating disorders, addiction, and diet in this post, I'm only drawing on information I've found that I feel is credible, so rest assured that I'm not promoting anything or suggesting anything about anyone. Take what is useful to you and leave the rest.

My writing here is done entirely without judgment. To make it clear, I support your right to choose how you want to live your life and make no assumptions about you based on appearance or lifestyle. I am absolutely not suggesting anything about anyone's willpower in this post and am not implying anything about what people should or shouldn't eat. 

In my previous post on low-carb dietsI may not have been clear enough that I don't deny the evolving research on obesity and insulin sensitivity, just like I don't deny the research (that also needs further testing) that shows a Keto diet adversely affects test results that require a higher order of mental processing and flexibility, however, the one thing in common is that all of these studies address specifics, not overall wellbeing. In one two-week study, for example, it was determined that a ketogenic diet MAY substantially increase insulin sensitivity in obese subjects with type 2 diabetes. I don't dispute this.  

My main point is that research in nutrition science is more often than not flawed, and, more importantly, a diet is basically ineffective if people can't stick to it. My caution to anyone who claims there's "all this research" around a certain issue is to look at as many studies as you can find and decide for yourself whether or not the sample size in each was large enough, the duration of the study was sufficient, the research conducted was controlled as much as possible, and the results were presented accurately without any speculation or false correlations. Additionally, as was the case in several sugar and obesity studies, animal models don't always accurately predict what happens in humans. In the words of Gary Taubes:

 Anecdotes are often the basis of quackery – but not always. Much of reliable medical knowledge emerged initially from anecdotal observations. Medical science can be thought of as a process that begins with such observations and, through relentless testing of hypotheses, eventually generates truth.

There's no doubt that anyone can have a predisposition to either drug use or eating disorders or both, but having a predisposition doesn't guarantee a specific outcome. There are other factors involved. When it comes to addiction, there are slight physiological differences between dependence on a substance and what people call an addiction to food. From a genetic standpoint, the allele that's most often present and considered a risk factor in cases of addiction is rarely present in those who are obese or have eating disorders. Looking at the central nervous system, it's not surprising that people oversimplify the effects of addiction because incredibly complex systems are involved. It's important to understand that neurotransmitters aren't limited to one area of the brain. There are billions of neurons and trillions (yes, that's with a "t") of connections in our brains.

In the case of dopamine, the neurotransmitter most associated with addiction, there are several dopaminergic pathways (dopamine is also found outside of the central nervous system), but most people focus only on the one associated with reward-seeking behavior. Specifically, the mesolimbic tract is associated with drug use rather than the mesocortical tract that's associated with eating disorders. The mesocortical tract connects the ventral tegmentum (sort of like the brain's superhighway) to the prefrontal cortex and plays a role in planning, cognitive function, and emotional response, among other things. Dopamine elsewhere in the central nervous system is involved with much more than reward-seeking, including but not limited to motor control, sexual gratification, and motivation. In other words, it can't be targeted in isolation. In addition, dopamine isn't the only neurotransmitter involved with addiction or addiction-like behavior, and the dopamine pathway isn't the only pathway involved, either. Depending on the type of drug, mu-opioids, GABA, acetylcholine, and others can play a role.

It may be that the outcome is similar in terms of potential interference with life, but food addiction is largely considered a behavioral addiction rather than a literal substance addiction. When it comes to food addiction, it's more the act of eating that's addicting, at least from a neurological standpoint. That's not to say that foods don't affect the brain's chemistry. All foods do to some extent, but the way people eat and eating disorders, in particular, affect hormone levels (leptin, insulin, ghrelin) that can eventually affect the brain's chemistry. Drugs, on the other hand, act directly on either neurotransmitters or on the cells that regulate neurotransmitters. The difference is subtle but important.

According to the 2014 Behavioral and Neuroscience Review that addressed the hypothesis that sugar is addicting:

Addiction-related behaviors in sugar consumption (such as tolerance and a withdrawal syndrome) have not been observed in humans (Benton, 2010). Instead, most observational and mechanistic evidence for addiction to sugar comes from rat models pioneered in Bart Hoebel's laboratory.

This means that addiction to sugar was not seen in humans, only in rats though observational and mechanistic evidence. These findings support the idea that in humans, sugar addiction is more of a behavioral addiction and not a substance addiction. The same was found to be true of other palatable foods. When people talk about coffee or chocolate withdrawal, a headache, feeling low or emotionally wrecked isn't the same as your body's cells not functioning without the substance on which you have become physically dependent. True withdrawal is extremely painful and can be life-threatening. It's not just feeling meh or a little bit cranky. (I hear that last part being said in the voice of Patton Oswalt for some reason.)

Like with autism and many other illnesses and disorders, our definition of addiction is ever-changing and expanding. It used to be that behaviors were not considered addictions, but they are included in the DSM-5 now, which some people claim has moved away from evidence-based, strict definitions in favor of subjective, broad criteria. It's likely that this is for diagnostic purposes, probably so doctors can prescribe medications or therapy. This isn't to suggest that a psychological addiction isn't potentially dangerous to some, more to illustrate that there are different types of addiction. A psychological addiction can cause a person to feel dependent on a substance such as weed or coffee, but if he or she goes without it, the withdrawal itself won't be deadly. This basically addresses the disease model vs the psychological or medical model of addiction, too. The latter can include just about anything, while the former is considered more of a disease with a source or sources of origin. 

What does this all mean? It depends. For the average person, all this research and speculation mean very little. For someone struggling with addiction or an eating disorder, perhaps it might provide a better understanding of the mechanisms involved in both substance abuse and eating disorders. It probably won't solve problems directly, but it might eventually lead to improved methods of addiction and eating disorder treatment.